do I need a root canal

If my tooth is dead, do I need a root canal?

“My dentist informed me that my tooth was dead and I need a root canal treatment. If my tooth is dead why do I need a root canal?”

Dr. Eric Dahlen, DMD, a Vancouver Washington dentist teaches that, “Teeth can need root canals, also called, Endodontic Treatment for a number of reasons.”

In the center of each tooth lies its nerve and blood supply. Sometimes with trauma, cavities, cracks, and sometimes for no apparent reason, the nerve and blood supply can die. This dead tissue becomes a breeding ground for bacteria inside the tooth. Growing bacteria inside the tooth can spread into the jawbone and cause an abscess tooth.

An abscess tooth can be a true emergency requiring immediate treatment to relieve substantial pain or swelling. Some people experience abscessing with little to no pain.

Routine dental x-rays are sometimes able to see an abscess before the patient experiences any pain. A few simple tests are also done in conjunction of x-raying the teeth to confirm that the tooth is dead and abscessing.

Root Canal therapy is a treatment to access the dead and infected nerve (pulp) material and using instruments and a disinfecting rinse to decontaminate the center of the tooth. A rubber like filling material is placed to fill the root where the dead tissue and bacteria once were.

If I have bacteria in my tooth just taking an antibiotic should fix the problem?

Antibiotics do kill bacteria. We take a pill and the antibiotic finds its way into our blood stream killing bacteria as it encounters them. With teeth, there is a very limited blood supply that goes into the tips of the roots. Once the nerve and blood supply die there is no way to get antibiotics into the tooth.

Antibiotics are unable to make there way inside a dead tooth. Antibiotics alone for a dead tooth is usually an ineffective treatment.

Antibiotics used in conjunction with root canal therapy is sometimes used. The abscessing bacteria in the jawbone from a tooth are effectively treated with the use of antibiotics. However if the dead tooth (the source of infection) is not treated the abscessing in the jaw bone will return.

Dead teeth can be unpredictable. On occasion a patient delays treating a dead tooth because the lack of pain (in their situation), gives them a false sense of security figuring, “I’ll take care of it when it starts hurting.” Taking this risk is not recommended.

Delaying treatment can complicate treatment and could require taking antibiotics and experiencing pain for a longer period than if the tooth were treated “before it started hurting”.

Let me know what you liked in the comments below.

Looking for a Dentist in Vancouver, Washington?

For more information or to evaluate a brown or dead tooth please contact us at Padden Dental.

Disclaimer: This information is strictly for informational purposes only. We are not making any recommendations or offering any suggestions on how you should or should not handle your situation. Please consult with a professional.

About Eric Dahlen

Eric Dahlen, DMD Padden Dental

Dr. Eric Dahlen is your local family dentist and enjoys making same day crowns in Vancouver, WA. Need a new smile? Are you suffering due to poorly shaped or damaged teeth? Dr. Eric has a special interest in endodontics. “I like endodontics because it is usually associated with a patient in pain. I like to get people out of pain and by doing so, their fear of dentistry reduces."

Give me a call today to schedule a consultation in our Padden Dental office by calling (360) 213-1999.

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